Weekend Inspiration–Seeking Kindred Spirits

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“As music is the poetry of sound, so is painting the poetry of sight.”  James McNeil Whistler (from skinnyartist.com)

Art inspires literature.  Literature inspires art.  Music inspires both art and literature, and vice versa. There is an emotional connection that is felt, one for the other on a deep level.  It has been going on for as long as humans have communicated with each other.

The evidence is there. Blog.ted.com has an article by Kate Torgovnik on Ten Books Inspired By Paintings.  Redbubble.com has a group devoted entirely to art inspired by literature.  A Current Under Sea has a post by Angie about literature inspired art.  Flavorwire.com has an article titled Great Works of Art Inspired by Great Works of Literature.  The list goes on.  Examples abound of the arts inspiring the arts.

Artists, writers, and musicians create from a place within that speaks to inherent creativity.  It is a special language heard and recognized one in the other.  Spirit recognizes kindred spirit and is inspired. It is a mystical place.  Those times when blocks happen, a moment to seek the place of the kindred spirit may be in order. Check in with your writer and/or musician friends.  Take time out to read a meaningful work of literature.  Read poetry.  Listen to a piece of personally inspiring music.  Perhaps in the shared language of creation fresh inspiration will be seen or heard.

Vermeer’s painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, inspired the book of the same name.

Channeling

The position of the artist is humble.  He is essentially a channel.” Piet Mondrian (from Artpromotivate)Screen shot 2013-10-15 at 10.45.29 AM

What makes an artist create? For some it is the process of art- making. Others are obsessed with some particular subject, model or location.  some just want to make a living.  But does that really explain what makes a painter, paint or a sculptor, sculpt?  There are lots of postulations on the subject.

Artist Charles Spratt has several different ideas.  He says, “It must be for the love of it—it can’t be for the money.”  Spratt is likely right on that point.  He goes on to discuss the pleasure of creating and developing new ideas.  The satisfaction of selling work is also a good reason many artists continue working, according to Spratt.

In the Painted Generations blog, author Barbara Hartsook gives three reasons why painters paint or writers write.  Her first reason is, “to lose oneself in play and discovery.”  Artists get lost in the process of creating and by the fascination of experimenting with the materials.  Secondly, Hartsook states, “To reconnect with oneself.”  And lastly, she says, “To express oneself and tell stories.”  What this author has laid out is likely very true with a number of artists, may be even the majority of artists.  We play, we connect, and we tell stories.

The LaMantia Gallery wrote on the subject of why artists continue to paint the same subject repeatedly.  The writer gives three reasons: “market expediency, pursuit of perfection and experimentation.”  Artists staying on the same subject because it sells might be a very good reason to continue with a particular subject.  The other two reasons suggest that it is something the artist is compelled to do whether in search of perfection or for the fun of experimentation.

All three writers give good reasons why artists paint.  And all are right.  “For the love of it.,”  is important.  To lose, reconnect, and express oneself is part of the process, too.  Making a living is vital for most artists, as is the pursuit of perfection.  But the long and short of it, no matter what reasons you may give, is, simply, artists create because they must.  Inside every painter is a little Voice that says, “Paint!”  And writer, “Write!”  Sculptor, “Sculpt!” While all other reasons are true, that little Voice is the only one that matters.

Experimenting Experimenters

Screen shot 2013-10-14 at 9.07.17 AMLet us see how high we can fly before the sun melts the wax in our wings.”         Edward O. Wilson (from The Painters Keys)

Many artists are experimenters who constantly search for new ways to express themselves through their art.  They look for new techniques.  They try different media.  Some even come up with non-traditional materials not generally thought of as art making material.  Others look for new uses of traditional materials.  Still others seek out new and different subject matter.

The UK’s Daily Mail has an article focused on artist Gerald Toni and his use of coffee and tea to paint beautiful life-like works of people and objects set in coffee houses.  He uses various blends of coffee and tea from all over the world.  The amazing range of color values in his paintings come from years of experimenting with the different coffee and tea blends.

Watercolorist Carrie Lin, as told by Margaret DeRitter of Michigan Live has developed a unique method in her paintings using different papers such as yupo and rice paper.   For the rice paper work she uses a crinkle technique perfected with years of experimentation.  In the yupo paintings, she applies ink, allowing it to slide over the slick surface of the paper.  Lin then uses both techniques as the background for her beautiful abstract paintings.

If you are in the mood to try for something new and different, Amiria Robinson has outlined techniques, methods and materials to try out in a series of articles for Student Art Guide “Entitled Beyond the Brush.”  You might try painting with a mop or maybe your feet.  You could experiment by painting with a rag.  How about turning things around and dipping the paper or canvas into the paint instead of the other way around?  Robinson described a number of lively suggestions worth trying just for the fun of it.

In the process of experimenting, artists are forever evolving and changing the way people view their world.  This constant evolution brings color and expression to our lives.  I wonder what the next development in the art world will be.  Artists are always bringing new things to life.

Let Them Make Art!

“ I gave them paint.  All it takes.  These politicians make things too complicated.”

Elena Thomas (from Artists Talking in A-N)Screen shot 2013-10-12 at 10.46.49 AM

Put a group of people into a room full of art supplies and watch what happens.  People find ways to create things.  They experiment with materials, forms, and limitations.  They solve problems.  They begin to talk to each other in different ways. They even bond.  And, generally, they have fun.

Bob Bates is the founder of Inner City Arts, an organization to provide art -making projects to urban youth.  Bates, in an interview with It Magazine believes the process of creating art leads to better self- confidence.  Bates states, “Making art requires thinking and decisions: what color will I use, how can I make this stand up, how can I make this stronger, quieter, brighter, more bendable.”  The self -confidence comes as they see the evidence of how they solved the problems in making their individual art.

A research study by Julia Kellman of the University of Illinois, Urbana, found that people facing life -threatening illness were able to begin opening up and talking about their illness as they participated in art making projects together.  The group bonded in the process of making art, leading to a greater feeling of safety to expose personal feelings and talk about what they were experiencing.

Lisa Phillips, writes in The Artistic Edge, “Artists are constantly pushed to explore unchartered territory.  The truly great ones are those that produce new and exciting work that has never before been created.”  Artists are always, by their very nature, pushing for improvement, to do something better than the last creation.  Each piece is a learning experience that leads to the next one.  Creativity begets more creativity.

As artists know, art making brings about creativity, problem-solving and bonding.  It could be a very child-like, simplistic answer for much bigger problems.  Picasso is frequently quoted as having said, “Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain one when we grow up.”  Wouldn’t it be a hoot if all politicians were required to go into a room full of art supplies with orders to make art?  What a lot of problems would then be solved!  However, as the old saying goes, “If wishes were horses .….”

Reference:

Kellman, J (2005). HIV, art and a journey toward healing, one man’s story. Journal of Aesthetic Education. 39(3), Fall 2005

Voices

It takes courage to paint, to express yourself that way and put it out there for others to see and comment on.”Carla NeggersThe Rapids, pg 361-62Image

Occasionally, a statement in an unlikely place can jump out and grab your attention.  The above quote, in a suspense fiction novel, provoked such a response.  It does take courage for an artist to put art out there for others to comment on.  Comments can warm the heart. Comments can hurt.  Sometimes, comments just baffle.  Yet artists continue to put art out there exposing themselves to the various opinions of others.

At a large gallery opening several years ago, a friend and I wandered around picking up on the conversations of others about the exhibited art.  Many times it was difficult to understand what the heck people were talking about!  Some of what we heard was down right funny.  Other comments were very interesting, good and bad.  We heard a full range.

When artists hear these comments, what are they feeling?  It may depend on the artist.  A film on Georgia O’Keeffe late in her life asked her how she felt when critics wrote about her work.  Her response, “I never read what critics say.”  It takes courage for artists to continue to express themselves in their work regardless of what others say, even though it might stick in your thoughts.  Perhaps, it’s better to ignore the voices in your head, in this case.  The rest of the time you’re on your own!